Revenue Scotland tax collection beats forecast

8 Sep 16

Scotland’s new tax collection agency has ended its first year of operation with revenues slightly ahead of forecast and running costs within budget.

The first annual report of Revenue Scotland, set up to administer fiscal powers devolved under the 2012 and 2016 Scotland Acts, shows that the agency collected  £572m across the year, some £74m higher than the original estimates. 

Thus far, it has had fairly modest powers to exercise, in the form of property transaction tax and landfill tax. The former yielded £425m and the latter £147m. These were the first new national taxes to be levied in Scotland for 308 years, since the 1707 Treaty of Union.

The new agency also performed within its operating budget, with 98% of tax returns submitted electronically against an initial target of 90%. In terms of customer serivce, 96% of was mail answered within ten working days and there was an average wait of just 10 seconds for telephone calls to the agency support team.

An Audit Scotland report published some six months before the launch of the agency had raised doubts about the readiness of its IT systems and recruitment processes, and the relief in the Scottish Government when it was pronounced ready to launch on time was reinforced by satisfaction today at the first year’s results.

RS chairman Dr Keith Nicholson said: “The first full year of operation for Revenue Scotland has been hugely successful. Setting up Scotland’s devolved tax authority is no small feat and is a real testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff.”

Scottish finance minister Derek Mackay also welcomed the report: “The scale of the challenge of introducing the first Scottish taxes in more than 300 years should not be underestimated, and it’s encouraging to see this has been done so effectively.

“Raising tax is important to funding public services. That is why it is even more important now than ever that public services in Scotland are delivered competently and efficiently and that we continue to support sustainable economic growth.”

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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